The prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use among Turkish patients with primary headache

Turk J Med Sci. 2021 Aug 30;51(4):1994-1999. doi: 10.3906/sag-2102-234.


Background/aim: The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is common in patients with primary headache. However, no study has been reported in which standardized modalities were questioned in a Turkish population. The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency of CAM use and factors related to it in these patients.

Materials and methods: Patients with a diagnosis of primary headache were included in this cross-sectional observational study. Demographic and disease specific characteristics were recorded. The use and effect of 15 CAM modalities were evaluated in accordance with the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Regulations. The patients were categorized into two groups according to their use of CAM procedures. Logistic regression analysis was further performed to assess the association between CAM use and related factors.

Results: One hundred twenty patients [101 (84.2%) female, mean age 38.20 ± 12.24 years] were included. Use of CAM was reported in 33.3% of the patients. The most frequently used CAM modalities were phytotherapy (37.5%), cupping (27.5%), and chiropractic adjustment (17.5%). Compared with nonusers, CAM users showed a longer duration of disease (respectively mean 5.68 ± 4.96 years and 10.97 ± 8.57 years, p = 0.000). There were no differences with respect to age, sex, education, presence of systemic disease, headache subtypes, number of headache days in a month, or headache severity. Patients who underwent cupping reported that they benefited more than those who tried phytotherapy and multiple CAM methods (respectively 45.5%, 33.3%, 16.6%, p = 0.039). Subsequently, the logistic regression analysis showed a significant association between only disease duration and CAM use [respectively p value, OR (95% CI), and confidence intervals = 0.002 (1.143 (1.050–1.243)].

Conclusion: Our results suggest that Turkish patients with primary headache, especially those with long disease duration, use CAM modalities. Larger population-based studies are required to clarify the safety and efficacy of these methods.

Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; prevalence; primary headache.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Headache* / epidemiology
  • Headache* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey